Damen wants to have methanol-powered tugs production-ready in 2026

Dutch shipbuilder Damen has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with U.S.-based engine manufacturer Caterpillar and official Cat dealer for the Netherlands Pon Power for the joint development of a series of dual-fuel methanol/diesel powered tugs.

Image credit Arnout Damen; Damen CEO

“A big step in Damen‘s aim to become the world’s most sustainable shipbuilder. Our long-term strategy to achieve this includes offering a full range of sustainable tugboats featuring both zero-emission electric and carbon neutral methanol powered vessels,” Arnout Damen, Chief Executive Officer at Damen said.

With its greater energy density than batteries, methanol delivers increased energy storage capacity, making it suited for longer-duration operations while remaining CO₂ neutral, Damen added.

Under the terms of the agreement, methanol-ready CAT 3500E series dual-fuel pilot engines will be delivered to Damen by Pon Power in 2024 when the process of integration and testing will begin.

Damen expects this to be a complex undertaking involving integrating the engines with all aspects of the ship’s control, monitoring, ventilation, and other systems requiring close cooperation with the classification societies.

The aim is to have methanol-powered vessels to be series production-ready in 2026,” Damen added.

The Dutch shipbuilding major is working on several sustainability fronts with the aim of introducing zero-emission vessels to the shipping market, including hydrogen. Specifically, the company is working with seven other partners from the inland shipping industry under the WEVA project on the construction of the first hydrogen-powered inland cargo vessel Antonie at Concordia Damen.

The hydrogen-powered inland barge is being built for the Dutch inland shipping company Lenten Scheepvaart.

As disclosed, the 135-metre vessel will weigh 3,700 tons and feature a hydrogen fuel cell propulsion.

The vessel is expected to be launched by 2023.

Once delivered, it will transport salt from the Nouryon salt factory in Delfzijl in the north of the Netherlands to the Botlek in the Port of Rotterdam.

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Damen has gathered extensive experience in building hybrid electric and most recently even fully-electric vessels.

Earlier this year, New Zealand’s Ports of Auckland welcomed the world’s first full-size, ship-handling electric tugboat named Sparky. The battery-fitted reversed stern drive tug was built by Damen Song Cam Shipyard in Vietnam.

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Sparky marks the beginning of a new era for the Auckland Port, which is anticipating saving approximately 465 tonnes of CO2 in diesel emissions annually from the e-tug addition alone. The new tug also supports the port’s goal to be emissions-free by 2040.

Furthermore, Damen is expanding its finance leasing portfolio which aims to enable fleet renewal for sustainable operations. Earlier this month, the shipbuilder’s unit Damen Financial Services announced it was expanding cooperation with NIBC Bank N.V. to increase financing facilities for Damen vessels.

The financing options are available for workboats like tugs, fast crew suppliers, multicast, small ferries, and barges for retrofit and newbuilding projects.

The shipbuilding group is also working with Purus Marine, a newly formed, environmentally focused maritime vessel and infrastructure company, to finance green shipping projects.

The partnership, named DP Lease, aims to provide long-term lease financing solutions to solve the financing gap created by additional capital expenditure requirements associated with the purchase of environmentally advanced vessels.

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